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Youth: A Crises of Character.

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Helpful advice to parents on the subject is given in by Bishop Gregory (Grabbe).


Parents desiring to give their children a proper Orthodox upbringing many times feel hampered by the surrounding environment, particularly in schools. This is only natural, for we live in a not Orthodox society and our children have teachers trained in principles foreign to Orthodoxy. Their entire world view is different from ours, and they often approach the education of children under the strong influence of the ideas of Freud and other psychoanalysts. This type of world view is quite obtrusive and rarely tolerates contradiction.

What can parents do in such cases?

First, it is necessary from early childhood to impress upon children the fact that as children of the Orthodox Church they belong to a special and unique organism, which has its own laws and it: own world view, which are in many ways foreign to what prevails in the society around them. Even before beginning school, children should be made aware of this and know that loyalty to the state must in no wise infringe on their religious views and their personal being. Parents must accustom them to the idea that they need not fear or be ashamed because of this, in order that when they start school they be prepared and brought up to revere the podvig of confession. Then it will be easier for them to stand up to the challenge of the world view foreign to Orthodoxy.

If such attacks are too strong, parents can go to the school and insist on respect for certain basic principles pertaining to our faith.

At the same time, it is of course vitally important that parents enter more deeply into the lives of their children, encouraging them to relate what goes on in school and explaining any questions that arise, from an Orthodox perspective.

This is far from easy, but love, faith and constant attention, joined with prayer will let parents know how best to influence children in order to protect them from harmful influences.

One must be careful, however, that in nurturing a consciousness of belonging to a special church organism, to a special culture, not to rouse feelings of superiority, of scorn or judgment of others. Such consciousness must be defined not in these terms but on the basis of love and devotion to the richness of one's Church.

These feelings, this consciousness is transmitted to children not so much by teaching, but through the home environment, whether or not it rests on an Orthodox foundation, with all this entails. The atmosphere that parents create in the home - this is what is of primary importance. /.../

Nowadays especially, parents must make every effort to saturate their children with noble thoughts and feelings at a young pre-school age, so that they would thereby be prepared to deal with the different influences which will come from teachers and peers. This requires even more vigilance on the part of parents, and here especially they must be aware of how important it is for children to work on themselves and on their spiritual formation.

Children are like plants that God entrusts to their parents - the gardeners. If the parents graft onto them healthy shoots of churchliness, if they take care to see that they grow in the good soil of a Christian family and Orthodox environment, if they are careful to uproot weeds capable of choking everything good, and will water them with the living water of the word of God - then they will fulfill their responsibility before God and the Church and will gain for themselves comfort and joy.

If, however, on account of their negligence, the small plant entrusted to them grows up into a barren fig tree, the parents have no one to blame but themselves. Then they will hear the terrible word of God which Prophet Samuel had to deliver to the priest Eli for neglecting his sons' upbringing: I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever (1 Samuel 3:1314, KJV).